Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No Regrets

Even with all this laundry, I don't regret being a
stay-at-home mother for more than a decade.
This is actually the fourth in a serendipitous series as I contemplate my health and longevity.

Part I: A Heart Attack Waiting to Happen
Part II: And now what?
Part III: Wynn Anne Versus the Volcano

As well as looking ahead and thinking about how I want to spend the next 15 or 30 years, I've looked back at how I've passed my life.

Despite the title of this post, I do have some regrets, of course, including some pretty big ones (like buying or selling a house at the wrong time). Most of my real regrets are about things I've said or done that have hurt other people, sometimes intentionally. If I could time-travel, I would go back and say, "I'm so, so sorry. I was not thinking."

Mostly, though, I am grateful.

[Note: As I wrote these, I felt a distinct sense of apology, like I somehow needed to reassure every one of you that your choices - if you even had them to make - are okay. I'm trying to express gratitude, not to gloat or judge. Please accept these thoughts in that vein.]

I'm glad I married young.
It's definitely not the right choice for everyone, and I was extremely fortunate to marry Stephen specifically. But it wasn't just luck either. With a few exceptions, the boys I dated in high school and university were all really good men - good "husband material." Obviously, there were very good reasons why those relationships crashed and burned, but my point is that I was making relationship choices that set me up for success.
When I fell in love with Steve, we both knew we wanted marriage and children as priorities in our lives. This goes back to my discussion of shared values as being central to our marriage. If my priority, for example, had been to travel the world, then marrying young and (especially) having children young might not have been compatible with that desire.

I'm glad I had children young.
When we finally decided to "start trying," I had difficulty conceiving Katie, our eldest. Being a tad on the melodramatic side, I rode that emotional rollercoaster at full blast. The thought of not having children was heartbreaking. I think that if I had postponed parenthood and then faced naturally diminishing fertility, I would have regretted waiting.
As it is, even if I live less than the 74 years that Statistics Canada estimates I may expect, I will live to see my children grown, probably even know my grandchildren (not just meet them). I like that very much.
I'm glad we had "lots" of children.
It humours us to think that four children is considered a large family, but it is nowadays. We were going to stop at three, not because we didn't want more children but because I was terrified of going through childbirth again. Also, I needed to be on antidepressants and was not willing to be pregnant or breastfeed while taking them.
Watching our children together is a real pleasure. I love how they each bring out different aspects of the other, have conversations with one that they wouldn't with another. I know them better by witnessing that alchemy.
I also enjoy how I am different with each of them. There are versions of Wynn Anne that I might never have known otherwise.
I'm glad I stayed home with my kids for as long as I did.
I relish the memories of curling around Emily during naptime, or letting the kids climb on me while I weed the lawn, of play groups with a roomful of moms and toddlers. Those long, unstructured hours. They are a luxury, and I am so grateful to have had them.
I'm glad I also had a career.
When I finally did start working outside the home, boy, was I ready for it! And I loved it. I thrived - and still do - on the energy level of the workplace, on the mental and social stimulation. I like the financial benefits, too.

Despite the old chestnut, I'm willing to bet there actually are people who, on their deathbeds, thought, "I really wish I'd put more into my career." Obviously, I'm not one of them.

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